Robert Perry converts found objects into this distinctive handyman lamp.
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Materials and Tools:
8" diameter x 1" high spun aluminum base*
iron weight for base
24" carpenter's level
3/8" BX electrical cable and 2 connectors
1/2" wire hardware cloth
2 flashlight battery spring terminals
20-gauge silver craft wire
2" wide steel bar stock
90-degree arm back
miscellaneous nickel-plated nuts, bolts and washers
miscellaneous 1/8 ips steel threaded nipples
sticky back felt for base
18-2 SPT-1 electrical cable
18-gauge THHN electrical cable
crimp wire nuts
push in wire inserts
plastic cord nut bushing
medium base electrical socket
candelabra base electrical socket
300-watt full range dimmer
1 T10 40-watt clear display light bulb (medium base)
1 7-watt clear night light bulb (candelabra base)
* Drill one 3/8" hole into the center of the top of the base and one 3/8" hole into the side of the high spun aluminum base. This is a preliminary step.
1. Clean all of the found objects with degreaser.
2. Use a wire wheel attachment on a bench grinder to scratch a pattern into the side of the 8-inch aluminum base.
3. Using a 4-1/2-inch electric grinder with a 60-grit flap disk wheel, polish the top of the base, the level, the square and the file down to the bare metal (figure A).
4. When each piece is polished, use a rotary tool to etch patterns onto the inside areas of the carpenter's level (figure B).
5. Cut a 1-3/4" x 5" piece of steel bar stock to be used to attach the level to the base.
- Drill two 3/8-inch holes in the center of the bar stock: one 2-1/4" from one end and another 1 inch from the same end.
- Drill two 3/16" holes in the other end of the bar stock: 3/4 inch from that end and 3/8 inch in from the sides.
6. Using the same grinding method as in step #3 clean the steel bar stock, removing any burrs from the holes.
7. To bend the steel bar stock into an "L" shape, mark off 2 inches from the end with the smaller holes in it. Use a carpenter's square to draw a line across the steel bar stock where you've marked the 2 inch. Put the piece into a vice, clamping it down with the top of the vice jaws on the line just drawn. Using a hammer, pound the steel bar stock bending it down to meet the top of the vice jaw. Make sure that the bar stock is bent to a 90 degree angle (figure D).
8. Place the bent bar stock onto the 8-inch base lining up the larger hole closest to the bend with the pre-drilled hole in the center of the base. Make sure that the horizontal end of the bent bar stock is facing towards the wire way hole pre-drilled into the side of the base. Using a 1-inch threaded nipple, two nuts and one washer, attach the bent bar stock to the base and iron weight. Tighten securely, remembering that the horizontal end of the bent bar stock should be pointing toward the wire way hole in the side of the base. If desired, cap the top end of the 1-inch nipple with a decorative threaded ball.
9. To attach the level to the base, lay the level vertically up against the bent bar stock. Trace the holes from the bar stock onto the level. Using a 3/16-inch drill bit, drill the traced holes through the level. Using two 8-32" x 1/2" long socket head cap screws, attach the level to the bar stock. I prefer to use nylon lock nuts to securely fasten the level to the bar stock.
10. Drill the rest of the holes into the base. Using a 3/8-inch bit, drill the remaining hole in the bar stock through the base. This will be used later to attach the medium base socket. In front of the level, 1 inch from the edge of the base, drill a 5/16-inch hole for the dimmer switch. Measure about 1 inch from the left side of the level as you face the front of the level. Drill a 3/8-inch hole to be used for the BX connector.
11. Using a BX electrical connector modified with a 1" x 1/8 ips threaded nipple, attach the BX connector to the pre-drilled 3/8-inch hole just to the left of the level.
Note: All holes are pre-drilled into the base and the level is attached, attach the other tools to the piece.
12. Roughly place the speed square onto the front of the level and mark two places to drill holes where it will attach through the level. Drill two 3/16-inch holes through the speed square where drawn. Place the speed square back up against the level. Using a writing device or scratch all, trace the holes drilled in the speed square onto the level. Using the same drill bit size, drill through the level where you traced the holes. Using two 8-32" x 1-1/4" long socket head cap screws and nylon lock nuts, attach the speed square to the level. Tighten securely.
13. Drill a 3/8-inch hole in the upper central part of the level to be used to attach the candelabra socket.
14. Sandwich the wood file between the speed square and the level (figure E) in a satisfying position. Tip: Use the lower socket head cap screw as a wedging point for the pointy end of the file.
15. Wire the candelabra electrical socket, which will be the nose of the piece. Attach about four feet of 18-gauge THHN wire to each terminal on the candelabra socket, preferably one white and one black.
16. Thread a 5/8" x 1/8" ips nipple, with one plastic insert on both ends, onto the bottom of the candelabra socket. Lock it down with a nut. Slide the candelabra cup onto the threaded nipple. Tighten with a nut. Using a 90-degree arm back, attach the remaining end of the nipple onto the arm back. Insert a 1-inch nipple into the other end of the arm back.
17. To attach the candelabra socket to the level, slide the 1-inch nipple on the end of the arm back through the pre-drilled 3/8-inch hole in the middle of the level. Tighten with a nut. Attach a BX connector over the remaining end of the nipple with a 9/16-inch knurled nut. The screws on the BX connector should be facing up.
18. Cut a three-foot piece of 3/8-inch aluminum BX cable sleeve. Slide the wire from the candelabra socket through the sleeve making sure that about 12 inches comes out from the other end. Push the BX cable into the BX connector on the back of the level and tighten.
19. Snake the remaining BX cable through the level into a pleasing design. Push the end of the BX cable into the BX connector previously attached to the base. Tighten securely.
20. Using wire cutters, cut a piece of 1/2-inch galvanized hardware cloth 6" x 24" long. Make sure to leave 1/2-inch wire tabs on one of the 6-inch ends. Wrap the hardware cloth into a cylinder (circle) shape. Using the 1/2-inch tabs left on one end, crimp them over using a pair of pliers the other end to form a seam where the ends meet.
21. Slide the hardware cloth cylinder over the BX cable and attach the cylinder to the BX cable using the 20-gauge silver craft wire. Tip: Use a slanted design on the piece to mirror the slant on the speed square.
22. To attach the eyes, insert the flashlight battery spring terminals to the hardware cloth by spinning them into the hardware cloth clockwise. Place these 'eyes' just behind the safety glasses (figure G). Use the safety glasses periodically as reference (figure G).
23. Place the safety glasses onto the hardware cloth over the top of the eyes. Attach glasses to the hardware cloth with 20-gauge sliver craft wire. Tip: Two spots on each side of the glasses will work just fine.
24. Wire the medium base electrical socket using approximately 9 inches of 18-2 SPT-1 lamp wire. Press the cap onto the socket forming a tight bond. Thread a 1" x 1/8" ips threaded nipple (with one plastic insert on both ends) into the cap of the socket. Tighten with a nut. Put a 3/4-inch decorative knurled nut onto the nipple as well. Slide the remaining nipple into the pre-drilled hole just behind the level in the bar stock and base. Using a washer and nut tighten the socket to the iron weight.
25. Turn the piece on its side to finish all the wiring. Thread the 300-watt full range dimmer switch into the pre-drilled hole just in front of the level (figure I). Tighten with the manufacturer-supplied washer and nut. Press the dimmer switch knob onto the top of the dimmer switch.
26. Press a plastic cord nut bushing into the hole pre-drilled into the side of the back of the base. Insert a 6' x 18-2 SPT-1 electrical cord with a molded male plug on one end. Put an electrician's knot in the wire on the inside of the base to prevent the cord from being pulled out of the base of the piece.
27. Attach one wire from the candelabra electrical socket, one wire from the medium base electrical socket and one wire from the full range dimmer using a 14-gauge crimped wire nut. Crimp the nut with a proper crimping tool.
28. Attach the other wire from the candelabra socket, the other wire from the medium base socket, and one wire from the electrical cord (with the knot in it) together using a 14-gauge crimped wire nut. Crimp the nut with a proper crimping tool.
29. Attach the other wire from the dimmer and the other wire from the electrical cord (with the knot in it) with a 16-gauge wire nut. Crimp the nut with a proper crimping tool.
30. Cut a piece of sticky back felt into an 8-inch circle. Stick it to the inside of the base of the piece being sure to cover all of the wires.
31. Turn the piece right side up and insert the light bulbs (figure J). Plug it in, turn the dimmer switch and watch it light up to amaze your friends.
Robert Perry of South Miami, Fla., loves scouring the streets for junk. In fact, in his workshop he's got a bit of everything, including a kitchen sink! He turns someone else's trash into his own treasure. Lighting fixtures have become his specialty and in this project he's creating a unique lamp out of found objects.